The New York Times Travel Show

NY Times Travel Show 1

A tasty experience: Culinary trends and events at The New York Times Travel Show.

By Stef Schwalb

What’s the one thing that brings people of diverse backgrounds together and table their differences in lieu of great taste? Food and drink, of course – that’s what our magazine is all about. So naturally, the culinary trends in tourism is something we always keep tabs on.

During The New York Times Travel Show, held in late January at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, an entire seminar was focused on this tantalizing topic for members of the trade. When the show opened to consumers, the Taste of the World stage also provided some insights and exposure into what’s hot in the industry at home and overseas.

The focus on culinary tourism addressed the latest trends and in-demand destinations for gourmet tours, as well as food and wine events. The panel was moderated by Doug Duda, director of partnerships at the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and included Chad Martin, director of the Northeast Region of the Israel Ministry of Tourism; Naledi Khabo, managing director of the Africa Travel Association; and Phil Rosenthal, creator and host of the Netflix series, “Somebody Feed Phil.”

Authentic Experiences

Some major themes that dominated the conversation were based on authentic travel experiences through food. The panelists agreed that one of the best ways to live like the locals is to eat like them and, moreover, with them. In destinations such as Israel, there has been a tremendous increase in homestays where travelers are invited to join area residents not only in sharing a meal with them but also in cooking it. This gives a next-level meaning to the term “breaking bread.”

Experiencing a culture through food provides travelers with a unique, insider perspective. For example, destinations in Africa – Khabo explained– are usually associated with safaris. However, events stateside such as the African Food Week are expanding the conversation. These culinary experiences help bring people to the region, she added, which in turn helps the local economy.

NY Times Travel Show 2Phil Rosenthal, the creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond,” has traveled all over the world for his show trying an assortment of cuisines and learning about a host of cultures, from Buenos Aires and Venice, to Lisbon, Mexico City and more. His observation that you can’t take the place out of a dish is a sentiment panelists and the audience found particularly timely, especially given how many of the foods in America we love come from immigrant roots. It’s an important reminder that what brings us to the table for a meal might also have the power to bring us together in other ways too. It’s an uplifting thought that the impact of travel – culinary tourism, in particular – can make a difference in the lives of visitors who venture to new destinations as well as the people who reside there.

Sizzling Sessions

Meanwhile on the Travel Show floor, once again one of the most popular spots to experience was the Taste of the World Stage. Here event attendees were able to learn about a host of culinary travel experiences and destinations. The Saturday sessions were kicked off by Duda and his daughter, Stella, demonstrating how to start your next family getaway – straight from your own kitchen. Next was a live performance of the song, “What Baking Can Do,” by a cast member of the hit Broadway show, “Waitress,” complete with a pie tasting.

Insights on Israeli cooking were then provided by Chef Nir Zook of Arba in New York City. Rosenthal also returned to the stage and kitchen in the company of Joan Nathan, author of “King Solomon’s Table.” Nathan will be hosting the upcoming Time Journey’s Jewish Food and Heritage in Italy.

A Taste of the Caribbean Islands was the next item on the event menu and featured seafood favorites prepared by MSC Cruises’ Corporate Chef Enrique Villardefrancos. The day concluded with a deeper dive into a range of immigrant cultural influences in Israel presented by the Israel Ministry of Tourism; enticing insights into French cuisine; and culinary travel across New York State, which covered food and beverages including wine trail experiences.

Sunday’s sessions showcased several of the same sessions, as well as the additions of “Eating Your Way In, Around and Through Italy” with Italian food travel expert Elizabeth Minchilli and New York Times food writer Melissa Clark; a visit to Margaritaville with Chef Carlo Sernaglia, which featured island-inspired recipes; and “The True Taste of India in NYC,” which took a tantalizing tour in to Kalustyan’s, a specialty market renowned by chefs around the world for its Indian and Middle Eastern spices that help them recreate the true tastes of India from their own kitchens.

A born and bred New Yorker, Stef Schwalb's love of everything culinary knows no bounds. She has written about food and beverages for several years, covering everything from how to make goat cheese to pairing oysters and Chablis. Schwalb is the senior content manager at Gregory White PR where she writes about enticing food and wine experiences at restaurants, bars & lounges, wineries and wine regions across the globe.

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